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Editorials

Neuropsychology and SETI
by J. B. Arriola

Super intelligence, or superior artificial intelligence, should be able monitor much, if not all, of the information transmitted via our technology. If we assume they have the ability to view all of our communications, they should be able to aggregate our behavior and build analytical models to predict it in hypothetical situations. With that, they should be able to infer what our reaction would be to them, depending on how they present themselves and what they are actually like. These mathematical models could be run automatically, with extraordinarily accurate results. In this way they can not only study our evolution, but also find the best method and time for revealing their presence.

Until such intelligences feel that the aggregate of humanity will react favorably to the discoveries that SETI seeks to make, they can be expected to remain anonymous and beyond our reach. Websites such as Invitation to ETI are an important part of that aggregate. I would encourage its Signatories to increase the reach of their initiative, to spread its presence through the internet as well as through other communications outlets. I would suggest not just artificial increases, but ones that would make the equation more favorable for super intelligences contemplating whether to reveal themselves.

The credibility of this idea lies with the developing science of neuropsychology. This field is leading to the discovery that the behavior of the human species is tied up in our biology. Even the most simple things that once were connected to individuality and personality appear now to be more like biochemical reactions to unique stimuli. Our behavior thus can give us insight into our genetic and biological makeup. With enough information, we humans will be able to use neuroscience to make predictions about human behavior. To extend that predictive ability to super intelligence is not far fetched in the least.

Predictably, the full extent of the statistical model is beyond the scope of this editorial, but consider our ability to extrapolate information by minor tests to create the technology we now have. We have no reason to believe that we would find a super intelligence entirely unintelligible. We can expect to be able to advance science by simply witnessing super intelligence. We need to consider our own violent history and the likelihood of a negative reaction to it. ETI might actually consider it dangerous to reveal themselves to us. This reluctance would be exaggerated by the importance they attach to their continued existence. If (as some have suggested) they have acclimated to indefinite lifespan through the technology available to them, death would be the worst thing that they could imagine. Thus, immortality (whether biological or machine) would color their interactions.

We should all consider these thoughts as we enter a new calendar year, and continue our efforts to connect ourselves with that which is beyond ourselves.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in editorials are those of the individual authors, and do not necessarily reflect the position of The SETI League, Inc., its Trustees, officers, Advisory Board, members, donors, or commercial sponsors.


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